What is athletic recruiting without athletic scholarships?

There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about recruiting and scholarships. That’s one of the main reasons why I’m starting this blog. I hear questions and assumptions from recruits, parents, coaches, and friends. I’ve answered so many similar questions, and corrected so many incorrect assumptions, that I decided to try to provide some understanding and clarification here.

One common line of questions and assumptions is about Division III recruiting. NCAA Division III institutions, like UC Santa Cruz, where I am the Head Track & Field Coach, are prohibited from offering athletic scholarships. It’s part of what’s beautiful about Division III, but I can get into that at another time. The lack of scholarships often confuses people. They think that means we can’t or don’t recruit, as if we have nothing to offer without scholarships. There is such a blinding focus on athletic scholarships that people lose sight of why students choose a college, or why they should choose a college.

In recruiting, I’m not really trying to convince prospective student-athletes that they should choose UCSC. I primarily try to help them find all the information that will help them make the best choice for themselves, in consideration of all the factors that are important to them in their decision making process.

The vast majority of college Track & Field and Cross Country athletes are not on an athletic scholarship. Scholarships are just one of many tools available for recruiting. Athletic recruiting is anything a program does to attract new students. That can include emails, phone calls, texts, social media posts, letters, face-to-face conversations, official or unofficial recruiting visits, and scholarships. A prospective student-athlete might communicate with coaches, administrators, faculty, alumni, and students in researching a university and ensuring that they make an informed decision.

The NCAA has many rules that limit how and when coaches and others can contact recruits. These rules vary somewhat between different divisions. Depending on the rules of their division, the program’s budget, and the preferences of the coaching staff, different programs utilize different recruiting tools at different times. Division III schools are prohibited from offering athletic scholarships. However, everything else Division III coaches do to try to attract new student-athletes is still recruiting. Just as it is still recruiting when Division I and II coaches attract new student-athletes without offering them athletic scholarships.

I touched very briefly on a lot of topics surrounding recruiting. I hope to expand on many of these in coming days, weeks, and months. Let me know



if there’s a topic you would like to know more about or a specific question you would like answered.


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